This morning I was riding the train to work when a white, middle aged “gentleman” boarded and sat down in the seat that backed up to mine. Across the aisle from him were 2 black people sitting across from each other face to face. They were brother and sister roughly in their late teens to early twenties. When the genleman noticed that the young man had his feet on the seat he leaned over and told him to put his feet down as there were signs posted everywhere stating that it was against policy to rest them on the seats. The young man politly complied and went about his conversation with his sister.
A few stops later the transit police boarded to check everyone’s ticket. [Editor’s note: Why are police checking tickets? Are they cops or train security?] After he checked mine, the middle aged man’s and the two youth’s tickets he moved on to the rest of the car. Now I can only assume that the young man had habituated putting his feet on the seat because after he put his ticket back in his pocket and sat back. This having once again caught the attention of the middle aged man evidenly infuriated him. He shouted at the young man to “put his F—ING feet down and show some respect!!!”. The young man had put his feet down when the man yelled this however, he and his sister appropriately and respectfully told the man that it was not ok for him to talk to them like that.
Obviously this scenario captured the attention of the police officer who marched right over to the scene to mediate. Now bear in mind that he did not ask either party what had happened but based his entire reaction on his own supposition. He turned to the young man and told him to keep his feet down. The young man acknowledeged the officer’s statement and alerted the officer that he did in fact put his feet down. After the young man acknowledged the officer’s request he proceeded to present his side of the story by stating that it was NOT ok for anyone to talk to him in such a disrespectful manner. The police officer ignored this and continued to tell the young man to keep his feet off the seat. The young man repeated his acknowledgment and then repeated his argument.
The officer then asked to see the young man’s ID, he pulled it out of his pocket, presented it to the officer who looked at it briefly while stating “we can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way”. He then told the young man that he had to exit the train. This obviously confused the youth because he had clearly done nothing to warrant being thrown from a public transport for which he had paid. The officer then reached over the young man, snatched up his book bag that was on the seat next to him and firmly told him to “get up, let’s go”. They got off the train where the officer proceeded to arrest the young man on what I can only assume are trumped up charges. The whole time this was happening I was trying to get the video camera on my phone to work but it had froze up and I missed the opportunity to catch proof of this blatent act of racial discrimination amplified by a coward with a badge. Record the police, it’s your right, and always be prepared to do so. I will carry a camera with me at all times from now on.
– Caleb Murphey
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